France’s Vittel mineral water company introduced the first plastic bottles — for any product — and they hit the market in the late 1960s, only fifty years ago. In the beginning, the plastic bottle was promoted as a means for making products more readily available. The idea proved correct, and other companies followed suit. Business was good, but as distribution increased so did a mountain of bottles with which we’ve been left to sort out.

No one, I like to think, really saw what those bottles were going to do to the planet. By the 1970s, the world was consuming some 250 million gallons of bottled water a year. Those statistics are scary enough, but today’s numbers are a quantifiable giant next to them. The United States alone, the world’s largest consumer of bottled water, is annually adding some 10 billion gallons of bottled water — with numbers trending upwards — to this now very much recognized, ecological disaster.

In total, eight million tons of plastic trash ends up in our world’s oceans every year. Once in the ocean, it can take thousands of years for each individual piece of plastic waste to break down, and when it does, it simply pulls apart into millions of very small fragments of plastic – it never “disappears.” It’s…